Hallowe’en, the Daily Telegraph tells us, is now bigger in America than Christmas. And that, surely, is as it should be. The United States is the nation forged in the white heat of the Enlightenment, and naturally shares all the benefits of its auspicious origin. Among those benefits, of course, is groundless superstition.
Ever since Mr Jefferson ripped the supernatural out of the New Testament (almost literally – it was a simple scissors and paste job*) the search has been on for a completely meaningless sub-theological festival. Not content with eviscerating the Incarnation (demoted to a winter festival covered with snow – ‘White Christmas’) and the Atonement (reinvented as a millinery opportunity – ‘Easter Parade’) America has made its own a senseless celebration on the day before an event which everybody ignores. It’s ideal: it seamlessly links the post- Christian with the post rational.
God bless America! (as they used to say).
*. ‘I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently His, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill. The result is an octavo of forty-six pages, of pure and unsophisticated doctrines.’
An American citizen celebrates the religious significance of Hallowe’en